Rayco Heat Treated Broach Materials - Becoming The Unparalleled Industry Standard

Wobble broach manufacturers and their customers have long had great success broaching hex and square forms, etc in soft materials like brass, aluminum, copper, 1215, 303, and many other materials under 30 Hrc. As the Orthopedic, Aerospace, Oil & Gas, & Automotive industries have required much tougher materials, some as high as 50 Hrc, wobble broach makers have struggled to supply their customers with a tool that is economically viable. Customers needing to broach 17-4 H900/1025, Custom 465/455 H900/H1025, Cobalt Chrome, Biodur 108, Strain Hardened 316L, 22-13-5, Monel, Inconel, Hastelloy, Beryllium Copper etc, have struggled wobble broaching in these materials. They have acceptable results in Titanium, 316, 17-4 H1150, & 304, but better tool life certainly is desired. Broach makers have tried to meet these customer demands with new tool coatings and new HSS/Cobalt materials. Some success has come out of this, but not on a level to make wobble broaching a viable option in materials above 35 Hrc. The focus has always been on the materials and coating enhancements .

Articles in various manufacturing magazines quote broach makers saying with material technology evolving, they hope to have a solution soon to broaching these hard materials. It’s not the material that is the solution, but the heat treat of the material that is. Rayco has had the solution since 1947. That is the year my Uncle ,Ray Bockman perfected the proprietary Rayco Heat Treat Process for HSS/Cobalt materials. He used his heat treat process back then mostly for dovetail forms, cut off tools, and turning tools. TV tube makers also used Rayco material for their glass blades to cut the molten glass off, before falling into their tube molds. The Rayco Heat Treat Process is still a company secret to this day.

It wasn’t until the late 1980’s that Rayco would use its heat treated process on wobble and push style broaches for bone screw manufacturers. Zimmer Biomet located across town from Rayco, reached out to us for help with their broaching process. They were needing improved tool life and were familiar with our heat treat process. It worked, and has led to a 30+ year relationship with ZB. Companies across many industries have used our Rayco broach tools in these very hard materials with great success. They have either vastly improved broach tool life in materials under 35 Hrc or have a process that now works in materials from 35 -53Hrc. Many times going from 0 good parts to a viable 150-200+.parts per Rayco broach.

We have the answer that our industry has been looking for. Some companies have given up on wobble broaching because they haven’t tried a Rayco broach. Some have gone to a carbide broach shave process. This process is time consuming and many times they chip easily when used in harder materials. The solution is here at Rayco. Our broach tools hold up in the toughest materials. We are getting the word out! Rayco has a 72 year history of heat treating HSS, but this is just the beginning!


Cutting Tool Engineering Magazine "Broaching With Confidence"

Part manufacturer seeks to oust weak machining link


Cutting Tool Engineering

Published July 18, 2019 - 10:00am


A part manufacturer must have confidence in its cutting tools to successfully perform lights-out machining. “When we can’t trust a tool, we can’t do it, so we lose production,” said Ben Sacco, operation manager for Radax Industries Inc.

Unfortunately, the Webster, New York-based fastener manufacturer and provider of machining services didn’t have enough confidence in the rotary broaches it was applying to allow long, unattended production runs. For example, Radax averaged 500 pieces per broach, which cost $100 each, when machining 17-4 PH stainless steel before the tool would chip and need replacement, Sacco said.

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A Rayco #7 rotary broach (left) set up on a machine at Radax Industries. Image courtesy of Radax Industries

“I just couldn’t swallow that cost much longer. It was getting ridiculous,” he said, noting that Radax doesn’t typically run low-volume jobs at its 50,000-sq.-ft. facility. “We have long, ongoing jobs that never come off the machine.”

Of course, reaching that level didn’t happen overnight. Sacco’s grandfather Rocco founded the company in 1967, operating three Davenport screw machines in a rented barn in rural upstate New York. The “office” was a pay phone in a bar across the street, Sacco said. “The bartender would run across the street when the phone started ringing and say, ‘Hey, Rock, you’ve got a phone call.’”

With Radax doing more business than ever in the present day, it couldn’t afford to have a weak machining link, Sacco said. He previously found that a rotary broach that lasted for 500 pieces when cutting 17-4 PH stainless, which tends to workharden and dull edges, was the best available. Then, he learned about the rotary broaches from Rayco Tools Inc., Warsaw, Indiana. Sacco read testimonials about Rayco’s broaches on LinkedIn and contacted Chris Rooney, the toolmaker’s owner and president, who sent three free broaches to test. Of those, Rayco #7 proved most
effective, Sacco said, and Radax immediately ordered more.

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Rayco #7 rotary broaches are for broaching materials with tensile strengths exceeding 190 ksi and a hardness up to 50 HRC, including cobalt-chrome, strain-hardened 316 stainless, titanium, Inconel and Monel. Image courtesy of Rayco Tools

Rooney stated that Rayco #7 is made of a special-purpose HSS that exhibits high hardness, enhanced abrasion resistance and toughness. The broach is suitable for machining materials with tensile strengths exceeding 190 ksi and a hardness up to 50 HRC. But he emphasized that having a source for the substrate won’t enable another toolmaker to duplicate the performance of Rayco broaches.

“It’s not the HSS material but the Rayco heat-treat process that makes all the difference,” Rooney noted. “Our process creates a finer grain structure at a higher hardness while maintaining the toughness. Conventional heat-treated HSS creates this fine structure but at a lower hardness, therefore lacking the wear resistance compared to a Rayco heat-treated broach.”

Although Sacco has broached up to 1,800 parts made of 17-4 PH stainless with a Rayco #7, he normally replaces the broach after the counter on the control of a Tsugami Swiss-style machine reaches 1,000 pieces. “We know if we pull it out at that time, there is virtually no cause for failure, and we just keep running,” he said. “That way, we have zero defects.”

That point isn’t the end of a tool’s life, however. Radax refaces used broaches and applies them when workers are present at a machine, Sacco said. “The tool life is almost the same, but I don’t want to push it.”

In addition to lasting twice as long as the previous rotary broach, Sacco said Rayco #7 broaches cost 25% less. “These #7 tools give us the ability to run longer production runs overnight without having to worry about a heap of scrap in the morning. We had no confidence before—zero.”

He said Radax also applies the broach to machine a variety of other metals, including titanium and S-7, 15-5 and 316 stainless. “I’ve switched all our broaches to Rayco.”    


End User

Radax Industries Inc., 877-211-5210, www.radax.com

Solution Provider

Rayco Tools Inc., 574-267-0080, www.raycotoolsinc.com


Extend rotary broach tool life to enable lights-out machining.


A rotary broach that consistently lasts for at least 1,000 parts.



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About The Author

Alan Richter is editor of CTE Magazine. Contact him at 847-714-0175 or alan@ctemedia.com

Wobble Broaching a Hex in 17-4 H900 Condition Material (45-47 Hrc)

We recently had an Aerospace manufacturer in Washington State, contact us about the problems they were having trying to wobble broach a 5/16 Hex in 17-4 H900 condition material. The current broaches they were using yielded 0-1 parts per broach. They had tried several different brands of wobble broach tools, but ended up with the same poor results, each time. Their process for making this screw was going very well, except for the last operation, the broaching. They were using the correct feeds and speeds, and their wobble holder was in great working condition. We simply supplied them with a 5/16 Hex Wobble Broach, made from our in house, proprietary heat treated, Rayco #7 HSS material. They are now running these screws getting on average 160+ parts per broach. They were planning on having to get this hex form done with a secondary EDM process, until our Rayco broaches allowed them to make the entire screw, in one process. There is NO Equivalent.

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Wobble Broach Tool Test in BioDur 108C (50 Hrc)

Wanted to share this wobble broach tool test received from a major orthopedic manufacturer. This is cutting in BioDur 108C which has an HRC of ~50. It is a very difficult and tough material to cut. Their application is making 2.7mm/3.5mm diameter screws with a range of 12-90mm in length. This test was done vs their previous broach supplier, with both broaches being used in a PCM holder. They were using 6000 broaches annually, at a cost of $137,000. They will save over $85,000 per year using our Rayco #7 material broaches, and have over 5000 less tool changes!

*One thing to note here is the customer mentioned that hardness varies bar to bar within the same heat on this material quite a bit, which is one a factor that creates a larger standard deviation. *


Rotary/Wobble Broaching Custom 455 Stainless (45 Hrc Hardness)

Last week we received a phone call from a company on the east coast. They were trying to wobble broach a 1/4’’ Hex .375 deep in Custom 455 Stainless . This material is 45 Hrc, and they were having no luck, getting only 0-1 pcs per broach, using broaches from 2 very well known broach manufacturers. They contacted us after being told by these companies this Custom 455 screw could not be wobble broached. The material was just too hard.

Not only did this customer need to broach these screws, but they needed this job finished in a few days and their machine was not running because of the broaching process failing. We informed them they could wobble broach in this hard material, as we currently have other customers successfully wobble broaching in Custom 455. We sent them off 2 Rayco 1/4’’ broaches that same day. Their feedback came a day later with their relief, as the Rayco Broaches worked great, and they finished their order on time,

Here at Rayco, we hear stories like this quite frequently. It always feels good helping customers wobble broach in a material previously thought not possible. Another earned happy customer!

The proprietary Rayco Heat Treat Process truly is a difference maker when applied to HSS. There is NO Equivalent!

Why Not Carbide Material For Broaches?

We run across this question often from potential customers, especially when trying to rotary broach in a tough medical grade alloy above 30 Hrc such as Custom 455, 17-4 H900, Titanium, or BioDur materials. Finding a Broach tool with perfect blend of wear resistance and toughness is key. Carbide has greater wear resistance than HSS or HiCo HSS, but has much less toughness. Carbide is great for turning and milling operations and can hold it’s hardness when high heat is involved because of its high Cobalt content. In Rotary and Push broaching operations there is very little heat generated, so there is no benefit for a broach with HiCo content. HSS’s toughness comes into play in rotary and punch style broaching. These operations cause Carbide to chip or micro chip, yielding poor tool life. Micro chipping can often look like premature tool wear, but is actually many tiny chips.

This is where applying the Rayco Heat Treat Process to HSS can bridge this gap. Our process creates a finer grain structure at a higher hardness, while maintaining the toughness. Conventional Heat Treated HSS creates this fine structure, but at a lower hardness, therefore lacking the wear resistance compared to a Rayco Heat Treated Broach. And this process we have been using since 1947. It’s a proven process

Thanks for reading!